A life estate is a present interest in property, usually real property. The unique feature of a life estate is that the interest in the property will end upon the death of a specified person, usually the person receiving the property. Upon death, the property will go to a future interest, either the original owner or a designated third party. This life estate takes its name from a French phrase, meaning "for the life of another.
A life estate is typically conveyed through an agreement between the parties. A key element to the creation of a life estate is the granting of a right of possession in the property. Although the words "life estate" are not necessary to the creation, an express intent is preferred. This type of life estate gives the person receiving the life estate all the estate property rights for the remainder of their life.
This type of life estate has a condition that would cause the life estate holder to lose their interest if the condition occurred before the death of the life estate holder. If the condition never occurs, then the life estate holder would still lose their interest in the property upon their death, just like any other life estate holder. " The holder of this life estate will have all the estate property rights for the remainder of someone else's life.
The general rule is that the life estate holder cannot voluntarily or passively commit waste that causes permanent injury to the land. This is because the life estate holder has a responsibility to preserve the property for the person receiving the property after the life estate ends. Although there is no exact definition as to what waste is, the general rule of thumb is that the property should be in the same condition received save for normal wear and tear.